Democracy rethink by Labour

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SUPPORTERS of one member one vote in the Labour Party were cock-a-hoop last night after senior officials were sent away to redraft the first comprehensive document on internal democracy since the party was formed.

Opponents of a strong union input into Labour decision-making believed that the tide was turning in their favour in the wake of a heated but brief meeting of a review group on links between unions and the party.

While more traditionalist members of the committee agreed to redrafting, they argued that the backers of one member one vote (OMOV) were in a 7-3 minority. More important however was an admission by one source, who backs a scheme whereby 'registered supporters' within unions could participate in democratic structures, that there was a chance the backers of OMOV would prevail.

A final paper will be sent to the February meeting of the party executive and unions will decide their policies at their annual conferences in spring and summer. The final decision will be made at the October conference where the constituencies, which command 30 per cent of the vote, are likely to opt for OMOV. Several unions will support the system.

The most controversial issue is the selection of MPs. The present document presents three alternatives - one member one vote; an 'extended franchise' in which trade unionists who pay the political levy could become 'registered supporters' and command up to a third of the vote; or an electoral college made up of individual members and unions.